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National Champions movie: cast, plot and trailers

The new film centres around a dispute over pay disparity in college sport in the United States and features the likes of Stephan James and J.K. Simmons.

The new film centres around a dispute over pay disparity in college sport in the United States and features the likes of Stephan James and J.K. Simmons.

Ever wondered what would happen if players decided to boycott the biggest game of college sports in the world? That eventuality is explored in National Champions, a new movie written by Adam Mervis and directed by Ric Roman Waugh.

The two football teams from New Orleans colleges, the Cougars and the Wolves, are set to face off in the national championship when LeMarcus James, star quarterback of the Wolves, announces that he is going on strike to protest the unfair economic situation.

A central point of the film is the financial disparity between the coaches and officials who earn millions a year and the players who are considered ‘student athletes’ rather than professionals. As James makes clear in a particularly powerful speech: “Over 12,000 of us participate in a multibillion-dollar business that doesn’t even give us health insurance.”

National Champions: Plot

You do not have long to wait to catch National Champions and the movie will hit cinemas in the US on Friday 10 December. It had initially been slated for a November release but was pushed back.

The film follows the inner workings of a college football team thrown into disarray when star player James and his teammate Emmett Sunday incite a strike of student players just days before the national championship game.

The college game generates revenues of billions of dollars for those in charge and the threat of cancelling the big event is unthinkable for officials. But with just hours to go until kick-off various power brokers have to find a compromise and get the players on the pitch. If not, the collegiate athletics system that has been in place for generations could be destroyed.

National Champions: Cast

Much of the film’s thrust comes from two charismatic characters: star quarterback Le Marcus James (Stephan James) and Coach James Lazor (J.K. Simmons).

As the suspected first draft pick for the upcoming NFL season, the player holds a degree of clout in the college game and is the one who ignites the strike. James, a Black man, finds himself in conflict with the predominantly White faces who govern the game.

Simmons’ character is the team’s patriarch and no-nonsense leader but one who displays a compassion that adds real emotional depth to situation. Coach Lazor is on the brink of a first national championship title when the strike is mooted.

Other cast members in National Champions include:

Alexander Ludwig as Emmett Sunday

Lil Rel Howery as Coach Dunn

Tim Blake Nelson as Rodger

Andrew Bachelor as Taylor

Jeffrey Donovan as Mike Titus

David Koechner as Everly

Kristin Chenoweth as Bailey Lazor

Timothy Olyphant as Elliott

Uzo Aduba as Katherine


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